Former first lady Grace Mugabe, who controversially attained a Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) three years ago, faces humiliation and a corruption probe after lecturers formally complained that her doctorate is bogus as there is no credible record of her study.
Grace was awarded the “earned” degree when her husband Robert was chancellor of all state universities, but now faces disgrace as the Zimbabwe Independent can exclusively reveal that members of the UZ’s Sociology Department board have no knowledge of her proposal, progress reports, thesis examiners and outcome.
This comes as it emerged this week that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) is probing circumstances surrounding her attainment of the degree amid concerns she did not comply with the normal procedures that other candidates are subjected to.
According to Zacc sources, UZ vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura and UZ lecturer Professor Claude Mararike, who was supposedly one of Grace’s supervisors, face arrest in the next few days over abuse of office for allegedly awarding Grace a bogus doctorate.
In a petition to Zacc, the UZ Sociology Department described the awarding of the degree as “very suspicious.”
Grace’s thesis is not yet in the public domain, three years after graduation — which goes against best practice.
Interestingly, other candidates, including former vice-president Joice Mujuru, who graduated on the same day with her, have all made their theses publicly available.
Mugabe’s wife graduated with a Doctorate in Philosophy from the Faculty of Social Studies in September 2014. Grace was among 3 274 graduands who were capped by her husband, the then president and chancellor of the UZ, Zimbabwe’s oldest university.
In the petition to Zacc, the UZ Sociology Department called for the immediate revocation, nullification and withdrawal of Grace’s doctorate by the university, a full investigation by the authorities into the abuse of office, corruption and other maladministration practices they say undermined the institution’s integrity and progress, adding “this seems only a tip of the iceberg”.
The fuming academics are demanding a formal investigation to determine whether Grace’s degree and other administrative practices do not violate Chapter 9, sections 194, 196-198 of the Constitution in relation to the governing of the UZ as a public institution.
The lecturers said the concerns of students, who are also appalled by the conferment of the doctorate, cannot be ignored.
Lecturers in the department said they were shocked when Grace emerged among the doctoral graduates.
“This was a shock to many members of the department as most members ‘never (saw) or heard about the proposal, progress reports, thesis examiners and outcome’ of such a study by the candidate. In fact, all of the departmental board members ‘heard about the graduation in the media and saw the pictures on the university calendar the following year,” the petition reads.
“In addition, at least the two chairpersons who were incumbents of office during the time when the candidate should have registered and worked on the PhD also ‘know nothing about it’. There is evidence that the Departmental Government Ordinances 1994 (Ordinance no.43), Faculty Ordinance (Ordinance no 44), approved policies and procedures for such a qualification, were violated.”
“The awarding of the degree has therefore not gone through processes that other candidates are subjected to which makes the awarding of the degree very suspicious.”
The petition listed 12 procedures that Grace should have complied with, before she could qualify to read for a doctorate at the UZ.
Firstly, the lecturers said, a prospective candidate approaches either the Post-Graduate Centre for guidance or a specific department based on the identified research interests and expresses an intention to work on a doctorate.
– Zimbabwe Independent